Highland Springs routs top-ranked team in West Virginia in resounding road win – 804 Varsity

RTD Sports reporter Zach Joachim compiles votes from area sports writers to assemble the weekly TD Top 10 High School Football poll.

The cowbells were deafening, and the opposition formidable.

But No. 1-ranked Highland Springs didn’t blink Friday night at Martinsburg High, the top-ranked (MaxPreps) team across all classifications in West Virginia, in a 34-3 blowout of the Bulldogs that sent shockwaves back across the Blue Ridge mountains. 

Martinsburg’s Cobourn Field was packed to the gills and raucous throughout. But Springers junior quarterback Khristian Martin quelled the din when he carried in from 1 yard out to put Highland Springs (4-0) up 7-0 with 8:15 to go in the first quarter. 

Martin was in complete command of the Springers offense from start to finish, and solidified his standing as one of the top signal callers statewide in the Class of 2024 with an eye-popping performance in a national showcase game. Martin finished 10 of 18 passing for 300 yards and a touchdown while carrying 11 times for 114 yards and three scores. 

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Early in the second quarter, Springers receiver Jakyre Henley snuck out of the backfield with his team backed up near its end zone on a third-and-long. Martin broke free from the pocket, and found Henley in the flat, who streaked 60 yards to the Martinsburg 34-yard line to flip the field. 

A few plays later, Martin pulled the ball on a read-option play, sending the whole Bulldogs defense the wrong way. With only green grass ahead of him, Martin ran 31 yards untouched to the housed to make it 14-0 with 10:16 to play until halftime. 

Springers sophomore linebacker Brennan Johnson, the younger brother of senior cornerback and Virginia Tech recruit Braylon Johnson and son of head coach Loren Johnson, was all over the field defensively. He led a stout effort from a Springers defense that swarmed to the ball all night and never let a typically high-flying Martinsburg attack find its footing. 

A Martin interception with about 5 minutes to go until halftime looked to set Martinsburg up with a prime scoring opportunity. But after a couple negative plays, defensive back, receiver and Virginia Tech recruit Takye Heath intercepted a deflected pass to give the Springers the ball right back. 

And Martin and Co. knew exactly what to do with it. On a 2nd-and-9 from their own 17, the junior QB broke free from the pocket once again, and found senior receiver Caron Ferguson a few steps past his defender in the middle of the field. 

Ferguson streaked 83 yards untouched to the end zone, silencing the stunned Martinsburg crowd and making it 20-0 going into the break after the extra point clanked off the upright. 

Springers receiver Noah Jenkins broke free down the right sideline with 7:13 to go in the third quarter to jumpstart his offense in the second half. After a couple penalties backed Highland Springs up, Jenkins found himself in lots of space on a well-designed and executed screen pass. He ran 53 yards to the Martinsburg 26-yard line.

A couple plays later, senior back Aziz Foster-Powell lowered the shoulder through a few Bulldogs defenders after his line broke open a huge hole up the middle, running 14 yards to the end zone. This PAT split the uprights, making it 27-0 a little more than midway through the third. 

Martinsburg (3-1) reached the red zone late in the third quarter, but the Springer defense stood tall as it had all night, forcing a turnover on downs to send the first groups of fans headed for the exits as the whistle blew to signal the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

Jenkins caught a bomb from Martin down the right sideline with about 6 minutes to go in the fourth to give Highland Springs a first-and-goal at the Martinsburg 9-yard line.

Martin carried in untouched from 19 yards out on a speed option to put the Springers up 34-0, and the Bulldogs faithful then began to make their way home in droves. 

Brandon Thomas hauled in a late interception for the Springers to keep Martinsburg off the board. The Bulldogs kicked a purely symbolic field goal with 2 seconds left to avoid the shutout. 

Highland Springs 7 13 7 7 – 34

Martinsburg 0 0 0 3 – 3

Scoring plays

HS – Martin 1 run (Anderson kick)

HS- Martin 31 run (Anderson kick)

HS – Martin 83 pass to Ferguson (kick failed)

HS – Foster-Powell 14 run (Anderson kick)

HS – Martin 20 run (Dent kick)

Mart – 32 FG

HS: Khristian Martin 10-18-300-1-1

HS – Martin 11-114, Foster-Powell 11-48, Henley 1-(-)5, Christian Bolar 3-2

HS – Heath 2-19, Foster-Powell 1-18, Henley 1-48, Ferguson 3-94, Jenkins 3-122


(804) 649-6555

Twitter: @ZachJoachim

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